Fugitive surrenders in Addis ‘murder for hire’ case

Corey Knox
Corey Knox

A fugitive implicated in the “murder for hire” slaying of an Addis man surrendered to authorities Wednesday night, just hours after a state judge denied bond to the victim’s wife already jailed for her alleged role in the killing.

Col. Richie Johnson, of the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, said Karl Michael Howard, 29, 918 Wood Creed Drive, Roswell, Ga., surrendered and was booked into the West Baton Rouge Parish Jail. Johnson released no other details about Howard’s capture.

An 18th Judicial District grand jury on March 14 charged Monique O. Kitts, 43, 17701 Suma Drive, Livingston, with first-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of her husband, Corey Kitts, 40, whose body was found July 9, 2010, in his residence.

Investigators said Corey Kitts was shot in the head three times at point-blank range in the bedroom of his home in Addis’ River Landing subdivision.

The grand jury also handed down first-degree murder and criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder indictments against Howard and Corey Knox, 28, 7829 E. Poinsettia St., Baton Rouge.

Authorities have yet to apprehend Knox, Johnson said Wednesday night in disclosing that Howard was in custody.

During Kitts’ nearly four-hour bail hearing earlier Wednesday, prosecutors had accused her of hiring Howard to kill her husband so she could cash in on Corey Kitts’ life insurance policy.

District Judge Robin Free, presiding over the Kitts bail hearing, had said several hours before Howard was back in custody that because prosecutors revealed Howard allegedly threatened to kill Kitts and members of her family, releasing Kitts on bail would “jeopardize” anyone around her.

“They may not have any intention to hurt anyone but her, but her release poses a danger to the community; I believe that in my heart, based on what we’ve heard from these people we’re dealing with,” Free said.

Free said his decision to deny bail for Kitts also was based on additional circumstances surrounding the case.

“Someone who is alleged to be involved with a murder-for-hire scheme — that’s serious business,” Free said. “That’s like the ultimate of the ultimate. That’s pretty far up there in terms of degrees of unpredictability.

“I’ve heard evidence she contemplated suicide. That’s something this court takes seriously. I don’t want anyone’s blood on my hands,” Free said.

Immediately after Free’s decision to retain Kitts in custody, Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton asked the court to amend her first-degree murder charge to a count of second-degree murder.

Clayton said he wanted to modify the state’s charge against Kitts because the prosecution was no longer seeking the death penalty against her.

A conviction for the crime of second-degree murder still carries the potential of a life sentence in prison, Clayton said.

“I don’t feel this is a case where the children should lose both parents,” Clayton said after the hearing. “If the jury convicts her, at least her children can go visit her in prison.”